Tag Archives: Tommy

Never Said

As I was slightly late to The Wedding Present train, the first time I heard this song was when I got Tommy (a godsend for people like me at the time) which compiled all the early singles with some b-sides and radio sessions. That this song was ‘merely’ a b-side to ‘My Favourite Dress’ was a bit of a surprise to me.

I loved everything about it: the yearning guitars, pounding drum and bass, the pinpoint and heartfelt lyrics sung with both snarl and sadness. It was a tale of such poignancy that it felt like it was ripped from a diary entry that I’d yet to write. This sounded like the sort of thing that would happen to me one day.

Like many songs from this era, it whips along at a frantic pace. Before you know it, the song is over and the narrator is alone. Metaphorically it leaves you breathless with how quickly, and badly, things can sometimes go wrong. Love can be confusing.

So, nearly thirty years on and I still love this song. I never thought the love would last but people get used to things so fast.

Questions and Answers with David Lewis Gedge:

Did this ever come close to being on George Best?

DLG: No, this was in that batch of pre – George Best songs that were just used on the early singles (and ended up being compiled on Tommy, of course). That’s because, with the exception of ‘My Favourite Dress,’ we decided to not use any songs on George Best that had already been released.

Did you deliberately write this song with its relentless momentum to create the feeling of rushing into and out of love?

DLG: I think 90% of the arrangements at that time had that relentless momentum! I like the way this gallops away right from the first plectrum hit on those deadened strings. Those guitars owe a lot to Josef K, I think… and Postcard Records.

As with many other songs, there is an argument at the heart of the song. What are you personally like in arguments? Do you avoid them, enjoy them? Are you a sulker, a shouter, do you try and always fix the issue or would you rather walk away and let the situation cool off?

DLG: I definitely do not like arguments and try my very best to avoid them. I’m not a fan of confrontation but I suppose I like to think that I would stand up for myself if provoked! It depends on the situation, doesn’t it?

One of two songs to specifically reference “Manchester”. Considering you’ve had a few places that you’ve called home, what do you think of the place now in comparison?

DLG: I’m actually typing this in the van as we drive to Stowmarket after playing Going, Going… in Manchester last night. Well, Salford, actually… but, yes, I always enjoy returning there and there’s definitely a feeling of going ‘home’. People speak with the same accent as me and there’s definitely a culture that resonates.

There are some perfectly observed lyrics in this song. What did your dad think of his car being immortalised in song?

DLG: It’s one of those songs where it’s almost as if I’m reading entries from my diary. I’m sure that my dad has never noticed the reference to his car although he did recently ask me to send him printouts of all my lyrics.

Official Lyrics:

I haven’t heard this song in years; it never fails to start the tears
A country lane and the smell of pine, a stripey blouse and some cheap English wine
And my dad’s car would never start but one phone call rescued two love hearts
And did I splash mud on your coat?
Yeah, you wore mine and I got cold

Just what went wrong?
You never said just what went wrong
You never said just what went wrong

We’ve got some good friends still in Manchester
Sometimes I think I’d like to live back there
Oh that was just embarrassing; at times I say the most stupid things
And then your name’s still mentioned next to mine
That’s what you hated at the time
I know I said that it just couldn’t last but people get used to things so fast

Just what went wrong?
You never said just what went wrong

I’ve walked behind you for more than an hour
I don’t even think that I know this part of town
I think I’m trying to find a way to talk to you again
I think I’m trying to find a way to bring you back again
Oh won’t you please come back again

Written and published by Gedge, whose publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Publishing BV except for North America where it is administered by Superior Music.

Studio Versions:

1 – ‘My Favourite Dress’ b-side [Reception Records REC005] TIME: 2:37
Available on Tommy deluxe edition [Edsel Records EDSJ9005]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums);  Chris Allison & The Wedding Present (producers)
Released 13/02/1987.

2 – John Peel Session
Available on Tommy deluxe edition [Edsel Records EDSJ9005] TIME: 2:38
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar);  Mike Stout (bass); Shaun Charman (drums);  Dale Griffin (producer)

Recorded at BBC Maida Vale, Studio 3 on 26/10/1986. First broadcast on 25/11/1986.

the-wedding-present-my-favourite-dress-12-single-_57 theweddingpresentmyfavouritedress392899

Tommy
Tommy

Live Versions:

1 – Live 1987 (Leicester version) TIME: 4:03
Available on Live 1987 [Scopitones Records TONE CD025]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums)

Recorded live at the Polytechnic, Leicester on 05/05/1987.
Originally released on the Live Tape #1 cassette.

2 – Live 1987 (München version) TIME: 2:03
Available on Live 1987 [Scopitones Records TONE CD025]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Shaun Charman (drums)

Recorded live at the Alabama-Halle, München on 22/11/1987.
Originally released on the Live Tape #2 cassette.

3 – Live 1988 version TIME: 2:50
Available on Live 1988 [Scopitones Records TONE CD033]
Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory(bass); Simon Smith(drums)

Recorded in Rotterdam on 30/03/1988.
Originally released on the Live Tape #3 cassette.

Live 1987
Live 1987

 

 

Live 1988
Live 1988

Live: 

‘Never Said’ was a regular staple of the band’s setlist from 1986 through to 1988 but has been played very very rarely since. In fact I’m not sure of when it was last played live. If anyone can remember, let me know!

EDIT: Thanks to several commentators who have told me that it was played on four dates in the UK in May 2008.

Video:

No official video exists so this will have to do.

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You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends

In April of 1987, Beechwood Music released the first of many, many indie music compilations and so it was that when I purchased this, I heard my very first song by The Wedding Present. Little did I know that they would go on to become my favourite band by some country mile. The eighth track on the cassette was a song called You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends. An admirable sentiment of course but was it really a good idea for a song? The answer: you bet your jangly guitar it was!

Coupled with This Boy Can Wait, this was the band’s third single released in short succession as they fired with energy and ideas. We start with a short drum roll by Shaun Charman followed by the afore-mentioned chiming guitar by David Gedge and Peter Solowka. I’m not a musical expert but I think this song is played in the key of ‘poignant heartbreak’. I’m already tearing up and the singing hasn’t even started yet. The story is set in school age, a time when bonds are first formed and lifetime friendships can sometimes be forged. Is this a platonic or a romantic relationship? At first it’s not clear but by the end it sounds like the pangs of a first love that drifts apart and is only viewed in the rear-view mirror.  One of the most evocative of lines is the third describing a “bridge that stood close by the sea”. I have only just found out some 26 years later that this bridge is apparently in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. The thing should have a plaque on it!

By the time we get to the first chorus, this sounds like not just the first love but a first sexual encounter and yet the sweetness of the lyrics never feel dirty. This is a song about love and the aching of memory. The third verse continues the theme of pain in remembrance. Of course, these would become familiar themes in the years to come as David Gedge revisits this favourite subject many times. Three minutes, two seconds in and we’re done. It’s fitting that a song that is all about looking back should end with the words that are the title. It’s a message and one you aren’t supposed to forget.

Questions and Answers with David Gedge:

Do you have any memories of how the idea first came to you?

DLG: I stole the title from the end of a letter written to me by Charles Gant who went to school with Keith Gregory [bass; The Wedding Present, 1985-1993] and who later went on to be a film journalist. He’s currently the film editor of Heat magazine, actually! He signed off with “you should always keep in touch with your friends” which I found to be quite a poignant line in itself but which also inspired me to think about how ‘first love’ can have a lasting impact…

Any general thoughts on the song now and whether you like playing it live?

DLG:  Yes, it’s one of my favourite songs from the ‘early’ Wedding Present era and it’s very enjoyable to play live. I share this view with Terry de Castro [bass, backing vocals; Cinerama, 1997-2005, The Wedding Present, 2005-2010] who says: “It really ‘drives’. It’s exciting. When it starts, it’s like a kick of adrenaline and it maintains an intensity and momentum that I find fun to play. It’s also kind of 80s retro-sounding but in a really authentic way because that’s when it’s from! Great bass line as well. It has a real groove.”

Is there anything you would change about the song now?

DLG: I think on “You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends” you can really hear us trying to establish The Wedding Present ‘sound’ and, so, although I don’t think we would record it that way now, from a historical perspective it’s a valid statement of intent.

 The song refers to a school time friendship/romance. Was this a specific person and do you in general keep in contact with friends from school and your university days?

DLG: It’s my policy never to reveal exactly whom a song is about… but in this case it’s fairly obviously about a first ‘proper’ girlfriend.  I’m actually guilty of not taking the advice offered by the title! The musician’s lifestyle and the consequent travelling makes it really difficult to keep in touch with friends. So I’m not really in contact with anybody I met at school or university, to be honest, and I do regret that to a certain extent.

It’s been said the ‘bridge’ in question is near Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Have you been back to it since? Could you still find it now?

DLG: I think I could find it, yes. It’s not the one that everyone thinks it is though… it’s not the “Spa Bridge”. I don’t know what my bridge is called but it’s next to the The Old Scalby Mills which is a restaurant. That “proper first girlfriend” of mine and I made a solemn pact that we would meet at the bridge on the same day every year for the rest of our lives. We said we’d return there even if we weren’t still together… but then neither of us could imagine not being together, because we were so ‘in love’! Ha, ha. Then, of course, we never went back. Ah, young love…

What made you choose this as a double a-side single since it was quite a break from the pace of the other singles at the start?

DLG: It was because we couldn’t decide which of “You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends” and “This Boy Can Wait” – which was more in keeping with the pace of the first two singles – should be the A-side. They were both worthy of being the title track. And it’s a ‘problem’ we’ve had ever since! Essentially The Wedding Present never have ‘throwaway’ tracks that are obvious B-sides. If a song isn’t good enough it’s simply not released.

Was there any chance of it appearing on George Best?

DLG: No. Apart from “My Favourite Dress” we didn’t want to put stuff we’d already released onto the album. It seemed like it’d be a bit of a rip off.

Where was the video filmed?

DLG: Scotland. The filmmaker approached us and invited us to make it on his friend’s farm out in the countryside near Edinburgh. It was all done on Super-8. I remember that Keith [Gregory] spent ages painting that backdrop, which was ultimately set on fire as we played.

Thanks David. It’s a very poignant song with a very simple message. The imagery is grounded in reality but feels timeless. I think this is one of your best ever compositions because of it’s simplicity  – bomaya

Official Lyrics:

After school, a friendship walking home
We fled across the fields until we were alone
To a bridge that stood close by the sea
The day that we spent there is ours eternally

I don’t have to tell you; I’m sure you understand
The first who lay beside me made me what I am
Oh, she made me what I am

A smile, in these ungrateful times
Makes all that you left me seem more worthwhile
But no, I couldn’t really dare to show how much I miss you
Isn’t that unfair?

I don’t have to tell you; I’m sure you understand
The first who lay beside me made me what I am
Oh, you made me what I am
And no matter how it ends, you should always keep in touch with your friends

Written and published by Gedge. Gedge’s publishing is administered outside of the UK & Eire by Fintage Music International.

Studio Versions:

1 – Peel Session version recorded 11/02/1986, first broadcast 26/02/1986 TIME: 3:02

Recorded by : David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass) and Shaun Charman (drums) Producer: Mick Wilcojc   Engineer: Mike Robinson
Special Thanks: Mike Stout (same version released on Tommy in 1988)

2 – AA-side single released July 1986 [Reception Records REC 003] TIME: 3:01

Recorded by: David Gedge (vocals, guitar); Peter Solowka (guitar); Keith Gregory (bass) and Shaun Charman (drums)

Engineer:  Carl Rosamond

the-wedding-present-you-should-always-keep-in-touch-with-your-friends-receptionthe-wedding-present-you-should-always-keep-in-touch-with-your-friends-1986

Live: 

Played regularly from 1986 to 1988 plus 2006-2007.

Officially released on Live CD 1987 & Live CD 1988 [SCOPITONES TONE CD 025 & 033]

Video: 

Promo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rmmVxoNCJ8

From The Other Side of Midnight: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AyUv-7F_Hw